This week the Sundance Film Festival announced the 118 features that will play this year's festival, selected from 4,057 submissions. Here at No Film School we are not good at math, but we are pretty sure this means 3,939 filmmakers were rejected from the festival. This short letter is for you guys.
This is a guest post by filmmaker Mitch McCabe.
For those of you who DID get into Sundance you are likely filled head-to-toe with thrilled adrenaline (and now, REALLY finishing the barely-locked film), and to you, many congrats! To the rest who have heard the news they did not want, let me virtually hug you.
While I have had the fortune of having 2 films at Sundance, I’ve also experienced the great normalcy of many more films rejected by Sundance. And frankly, when I got “the good call” it has never made sense to me. It was never the one everyone told me was “a shoe in”, never the one with the most years of work or biggest budget. Of the many staff members at Sundance I know, I can honestly say they are truly great individuals who care deeply about filmmakers -- who dread having to make cuts, who are not looking forward to breaking the news to the talented MANY.
So, I say to my fellow filmmakers, even more important than saying that your FILM is awesome regardless of where it plays, YOU are awesome no matter who rejects your work. Do not read into it as a declaration of your own failure. Your investors, your producers, may suddenly turn on you by the sheer news of your film’s Sundance rejection. Maybe it seems you have less friends. Yesterday you were a brilliant auteur, but now you messed up.
Do not let it ruin your spirit. Do not let one festival -- or the whole world of them -- define you and what you have made your life about. Yes, there are wars and disasters and more important things in the world than your independent film (which may be aimed at stopping natural disasters), but that does not help you this week. You sacrificed any number of things, maybe people have invested in you their talent, money, faith. Just know:
You have done something most people only talk about drunkenly. You put words into action.
As our field becomes saturated with Sundance talk, the next 10 weeks might become unbearable at times. But just know you are not alone. Lick your wounds and carry on. And try not to drink too much!
This post has been adapted from a Facebook post by Mitch. Thanks Mitch!
Mitch McCabe's films have received several awards and screened at hundreds of festivals, venues, and have been broadcast by HBO, PBS and Showtime. Her recently completed documentary YOUTH KNOWS NO PAIN premiered at Lincoln Center in 2009 and began airing on HBO after touring the festival circuit. Her first film, PLAYING THE PART screened at Sundance Film Festival, New Directors/ New Films, and won an Academy Award in the Student category. Her short films SEPTEMBER 5:10PM (1999) and HIGHWAY 403, MILE 39 (2004) were both nominated for Student Academy Awards and premiered at the New York Film Festival. In 2007 her short film TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. McCabe lives and works in Los Angeles and New York.